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New Country Representative of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) to Sri Lanka Christian Skoog presented his credentials to Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena, yesterday, 05 July, 2021 at the Foreign Ministry.

Accepting credentials, Minister Gunawardena recalled that the UNICEF’s cooperation with Sri Lanka supporting the rights and wellbeing of children, since the early 1950’s. Minister Gunawardena acknowledged with appreciation the outstanding work carried out by the UNICEF in Sri Lanka and particularly its efforts to seek empower, educate and enable Sri Lanka’s children to become the agents of change who drive national development into the future. He also commented the UNICEF’s COVID-19 response and social protection.

While elaborating UNICEF's child-centered approach which is designed to positively impact the stages of a child’s growth and development which is categorized as early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence, UNICEF Country Representative underscored that the UNICEF wishes to work closely with Sri Lanka towards 2030 agenda for Sustainable Development, mainly in achieving the SDGs directly linked to children.

Minister Gunawardena expressed hope that the on-going excellent cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the UNICEF will be further strengthened during the term of the new UNICEF Country Representative.

Foreign Ministry


06 July, 2021





Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage was interviewed on Ada Derana Get Real by Mahieash Johnney| Episode 110 on 05 July 2021.

The discussion comprised India and the Port City; “Addressing India’s concerns on Port City project”.

The full interview could be viewed at:




Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena engaged in a productive interaction with a cross section of overseas Sri Lankans representing community and business associations as well as the Maha Sangha and other religious leaders in Singapore and Brunei Darussalam in a virtual meeting held on 1 July 2021. Foreign Minister Gunawardena was joined by State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage at this interactive session.

The newly established Overseas Sri Lankans Division, under the guidance of Foreign Minister Gunawardena, has taken this new initiative to hold a series of discussions for regular interaction with overseas Sri Lankans to reconnect them with the motherland and play their crucial role in promoting transnational ties between Sri Lanka and their host countries.

In his address, Foreign Minister Gunawardena at the outset, thanked the Sri Lankan community in Singapore and in Brunei Darussalam for their substantial contribution in numerous ways for Sri Lanka’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and in particular, for their continued support with urgent medical supplies to the country at this challenging period.

While highlighting the fact that the Sri Lankan community, including the Maha Sangha in Singapore has been a very effective bridge in building a strong relationship between the two countries, Foreign Minister Gunawardena urged them to continue on that path even more vigorously in the current context to seize opportunities presented in every sphere, be it economic, social or cultural and thus to contribute to the progress and prosperity of Sri Lanka. He also reminded of Singapore’s vibrant Sri Lankan community, who has contributed significantly for the country’s remarkable development since its formative years and expressed hope that these great linkages still offer opportunities to form mutually beneficial relationships between the two countries involving the Sri Lanka community in Singapore.

Stressing the immense opportunities exist for economic integration with the ASEAN countries, State Minister for Regional Cooperation Tharaka Balasuriya in his speech sought continued support of overseas Sri Lankans in Singapore and Brunei Darussalam with all their capabilities and influence to ensure that Sri Lanka fully benefits from its engagement with these two key ASEAN countries.

Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage, who also moderated this inaugural discussion, in his opening remarks, stressed the need for wider support from overseas Sri Lankans more than ever before for Sri Lanka’s development efforts, and urged them to come forward in a big way to play their part with increased economic contributions as well as in their invaluable roles in society.

High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Singapore Sashikala Premawardhane in her brief speech expressed sincere thanks to the Sri Lankan community in Singapore for their invaluable support and contribution to overcome many challenges the High Commission faced, while looking after the welfare of stranded Sri Lankans in Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, and in its repatriation efforts during this pandemic period. She also emphasized the need for better coordination in channeling the donations and contributions being received for their efficient use.

The Maha Sangha and other religious leaders as well as representatives from more than (15) community and business associations in Singapore and Brunei Darussalam, who participated at this interactive session expressed their strong support, and pledged many forms of donations and contributions for Sri Lanka’s efforts in fighting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. They also reaffirmed to work closely with the Foreign Ministry and the Sri Lanka High Commission in Singapore extending their fullest cooperation in every possible way for the betterment of the motherland.

Additional Secretary of Economic Affairs P. M. Amza, Director General of Consular Affairs & Overseas Sri Lankans Division Wishwanath Aponsu and several other senior officials of the Foreign Ministry also participated at this inaugural session of engaging with overseas Sri Lankans.

The event was concluded following the chanting of Pirith by the Maha Sangha, who participated in this occasion.

Singapore has a vibrant community of Sri Lankans and persons of Sri Lankan origin presently numbered around 10000, and there are nearly 500 overseas Sri Lankans engaged in a range of professions in Brunei Darussalam.

Foreign Ministry


04 July, 2021




The Government of Sri Lanka has apprised the European Union (EU) of progress in specific areas of reconciliation, as part of its regular engagement and dialogue with the organization.  Accordingly, the Foreign Ministry on 25 June, informed the EU of action underway to revisit provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, No 48 of 1979, with the study of existing legislation, past practice, and international best practices.

The EU was informed of the decision made by the Cabinet of Ministers on 21 June to appoint a Cabinet Sub-committee and an Officials Committee to assist the Cabinet Sub-Committee, to review the PTA, and to submit a report to the Cabinet within three months.  Toward this end, the Officials Committee was appointed on 24 June, with senior representation from the Ministries of Justice, Defence, Foreign Affairs, Public Security; and the Attorney General’s Department, the Legal Draftsman’s Department, the Sri Lanka Police, and the Office of Chief of National Intelligence.

The EU was further informed of the granting of pardon by the President, exercising his powers in terms of Article 34 of the Constitution, to sixteen (16) former LTTE cadres convicted and serving sentence under the PTA, on 24 June.  The organization was also apprised of the process that has been set in motion to release detainees who have been in judicial custody for a prolonged period, under the PTA.

With reference to progress in ongoing reconciliation mechanisms, the Government has informed the EU of the release of SL Rs 79 million to the Office of Reparations in June to settle 1,230 processed claims for reparation.  An additional SL Rs 80 million was released on 29 June to settle a further 1,451 processed claims, out of a total 3,389 processed claims.

The Government of Sri Lanka maintains a regular, cordial and multifaceted dialogue with the EU.  This includes the constructive cooperation existing between Sri Lanka and the European Commission on the review of the country’s EU GSP+ compliance with the 27 core International Conventions.

In this regard, the Third Cycle of Review of Sri Lanka in the GSP+ Monitoring Process for 2020-2021 is ongoing.  As part of this process, the Foreign Ministry has provided to the European Commission through diplomatic channels, the comprehensive Response of the Government of Sri Lanka to the List of Follow-up Questions on the current GSP+ monitoring cycle, in adherence to the agreed timeline.  The Response was compiled by the Foreign Ministry in consultation with 26 line ministries / state ministries / agencies and commissions.  A GSP+ Monitoring Mission for the Third Cycle is scheduled to visit Sri Lanka on mutually convenient dates in September/ October 2021.

As per the regular engagement between Sri Lanka and the EU, plans are underway to convene the Working Group on Governance, Democracy, Human Rights and Rule of Law on mutually agreed dates in the fourth quarter of this year.  The Foreign Ministry looks forward to convening, in consultation with the EU, the 24th session of the EU-Sri Lanka Joint Commission in the first quarter of 2022, to review all aspects of bilateral cooperation.

The Government of Sri Lanka will continue its close and cordial dialogue with the EU with regard to commitments, while demonstrating the country’s substantial progress in areas of reconciliation and development.

Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof. Jayanath Colombage have met senior representatives of the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) Sri Lanka, the Seafood Exporters’ Association of Sri Lanka (SEASL) and trade unions, and reassured them of the Government’s commitment to ensuring that the EU GSP+ would continue to remain beneficial to the country.  Meetings with the relevant Chambers of Commerce are scheduled, with a view to updating them on the Government’s engagement with the EU.

Foreign Ministry


01 July, 2021



Newly appointed Country Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to Sri Lanka Vimlendra Sharan called on Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Foreign Ministry today, 28 June, 2021.

Welcoming the FAO Representative Sharan to Sri Lanka, Minister Gunawardena thanked the FAO for its continuous support extended to Sri Lanka. He particularly appreciated the valuable contribution being made by the FAO to Sri Lanka through various projects related to improvement and development of agriculture, fisheries, livestock, preserving and rehabilitating of forestry and biodiversity.

While elaborating the Sri Lanka’s policy on organic fertilizers, Minister Gunawardena sought technical assistance from the FAO to formulate a fast track programme to switch into resilient, sustainable agricultural practices.

The FAO Representative recalled Sri Lanka’s fruitful relations with the FAO since the FAO’s establishment in Sri Lanka which is well documented. He noted that the FAO is very keen to work closely with the Government of Sri Lanka to achieve the common objectives of sustainable food and nutrition security in the country.

Minister Gunawardena expressed his confidence on the excellent cooperation between the Government of Sri Lanka and the FAO will be further strengthened under the new FAO Representative in the years to come.

Foreign Ministry


28 June, 2021



Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena received the newly appointed representative of the World Health Organization (WHO) to Sri Lanka Dr. Alaka Singh today (25 June) at the Ministry.

Welcoming Dr. Singh to Sri Lanka, Minister Gunawardena recalled the close cooperation between Sri Lanka and the WHO, being the very first UN agency to be established in Colombo in 1952.  He appreciated the WHO’s assistance to Sri Lanka during the COVID- 19 pandemic, and requested continued support in securing COVID- 19 vaccines to the people of Sri Lanka. Minister Gunawardena also recalled that Sri Lanka was among the first countries that stood in strong solidarity with the WHO in its efforts towards addressing the COVID- 19 challenges.

While appreciating Sri Lanka’s solidarity with the organization, representative of WHO Dr. Singh assured the continued collaboration of the WHO in both addressing the COVID – 19 pandemic as well as in ensuring the sustainable delivery of other health care services during this period.

She commended Sri Lanka’s excellent health care system producing impressive health care indicators and the country’s standing as an example for the other countries in the region.

The representative of WHO to Sri Lanka Dr. Singh assured WHO’s assistance in securing COVID – 19 vaccines to Sri Lanka, and also in the post COVID- 19 recovery phase. She expressed hope that the availability of vaccines will increase significantly in the 3rd quarter of this year.

Minister Gunawardena said that Sri Lanka looks forward to collaborate with the WHO among other things, to enhance the capacities of the health care system and research facilities in the Sri Lankan universities.

Foreign Ministry


25 June, 2021



Addressing the Asia-Pacific High Level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation virtually on 23 June, 2021, Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunwardena stressed the importance of enhanced cooperation among states and other partners in addressing the COVID-19 challenges, including by recognizing the vaccines as global public health good. He also highlighted Sri Lanka's policy focus and thrust on sustainable development with renewable energy as a national priority.

Emphasizing that coordinated efforts at combating the virus, early recovery from the pandemic, and people-centered development would contribute productively to economic advancement in the future, the Minister Gunwardena invited all countries to avail of the opportunities available in Sri Lanka for investment in important growth-prone sectors. He referred in this context to the emerging Colombo Port City, port infrastructure in Colombo and in Hambantota as well as key Industrial Zones.

The Minister Gunwardena also underlined the critical importance of connectivity for achieving prosperity in the region, and of integrating green development and environmental protection into national planning and programming of all states.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of China chaired the conference with the participation of dignitaries from the Asia-Pacific region and other countries as well as representatives of international and regional organizations. Foreign Secretary Admiral Prof.  Jayanath Colombage was associated with Minister Gunawardena at this Conference.

Foreign Ministry

24 June, 2021


Statement by Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena at the Asia-Pacific High Level Conference

on Belt and Road Cooperation 23 June 2021

His Excellency Wang Yi, State Councilor and Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China
Distinguished Foreign Ministers and Dignitaries of the participating countries

It is a great pleasure to address the Asia-Pacific High Level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation today.

Under His Excellency President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Vista of Prosperity and Splendour Sri Lanka embarks on a new chapter of socio-economic development through the strengthening and increasing cooperation amongst countries and international & regional partners. Such cooperation has become increasingly pronounced today given the unprecedented challenges faced by humanity owing to the ongoing pandemic.

COVID-19 has caused severe disruptions to the health, safety and livelihoods of people. Therefore, multilateralism and international cooperation provides the best possible means to defeat the pandemic safely and sustainably, and thus sharing information amongst countries to contain the pandemic is essential.

In this context, I consider the convening of this meeting by our friend and partner, China, timely.


Moreover, vaccination, among other remedies, is the only sustainable solution in containing COVID-19. Unfortunately, severe supply and resource constraints have affected the vaccination drives of many developing nations.

In this regard, Sri Lanka reiterates the call for making COVID-19 vaccines a ‘global public health good’.   Friendship between China has been one that has seen through all seasons, good times and bad times; cultivating best friendships based on principles of ‘Kalyana Mithra’.

Under His Excellency President Xi Jingping’s leadership we hold at high esteem China’s great humanitarian contribution and advancement shown in safeguarding People’s lives in Sri Lanka as well as across the world, and in the region, in the process of eradication of COVID-19 pandemic. While fighting a global pandemic China has shown its great powers though progress shown in challenges in space arena too.

Your Excellencies

The impact of the current global pandemic on our economies and societies is disastrous. The Sri Lankan economy has also been seriously affected by the pandemic. Despite challenges, Sri Lanka aims to harness our strengths and the advantages to develop our economy and uplift the wellbeing of our people. Sri Lanka is committed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations.

Towards this end, Sri Lanka aspires to benefit from Belt and Road cooperation to further improve our economic infrastructure and advance connectivity under a win-win scenario.

With the development of Colombo Port City, that will feature a top-grade regional financial service center, world class port infrastructure in Colombo and in Hambantota as well as key Industrial Zones in several locations, Sri Lanka is confident that investors around the world will be able to benefit from these initiatives.

I wish to mention Singapore has been growing as a key Asian Financial center. I wish to mention Dubai has been growing as a key Middle-East Financial center. For a long time there had been a very dry spot in between. This long due will now be served by the "Colombo International Finance Center".

As Foreign Minister of Sri Lanka, I wish to make this the opportunity to request and invite Foreign Investors to come and invest in the "Colombo International Financial City".


Sri Lanka is taking sweeping adaptation measures to build climate resilience and is actively participating in the global campaign to combat global warming. Sri Lanka has begun to abandon the use of chemical fertilizers and has committed to generating 70% of renewable energy too.

Accordingly, Sri Lanka recognizes the critical importance of integrating green development and environmental protection into pandemic recovery and development drives. In this regard, the Belt and Road green development initiatives provide valuable inspirations.

Sri Lanka looks forward towards working with China and its partners in achieving prosperity of all our peoples.

May all beings be well, happy and safe Ayubowan!  Thank you



The European Union (EU)/ECHO (the emergency arm of EU funding) through the United Nations  Environment Programme (UNEP) supports three (03) technical experts to assist the Sri Lankan Government assessing the impact on the environment caused by the MV X-press Pearl.

The experts include Stephane Le Floch, an expert on oil and HNS (hazardous and noxious substances) has been deployed to emergencies, HNS and marine litter expertise Camille La Croix and Luigi Alcaro, specialised in environmental impact assessment following oil and HNS spills also with previous deployment experience.

A meeting was organized by the Foreign Ministry to brief the team of experts on the current ground situation and the action taken by the relevant stakeholder agencies. The meeting was chaired by Director General, Ocean Affairs, Environment and Climate Change Hasanthi Urugodawatte Dissanayake together with UN Resident Coordinator in Sri Lanka Hanaa Singer Hamdy. The meeting commenced with an introduction to the disaster that occurred, setting the background for further elaboration and updates from the relevant stakeholder agency, with the relevant mandate.

The meeting paved the way to understand the mandates of the agencies in relation to environmental damages connected to the disaster and the role of the agencies and initial discussions on how the 03 experts could contribute to support the process with recommendations on future action to be taken by the key stakeholder agencies.

Participating stakeholder agencies included senior officials from the State Ministry of Urban Development, Coast Conservation, Waste Disposal and Community Cleanliness, Marine Environmental Protection Authority(MEPA),  Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Coast Guard, National Aquatic Resources Research and Development Agency (NARA), Central Environmental Authority (CEA),  Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), Merchant Shipping Secretariat, Sri Lanka Ports Authority (SLPA), Department of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Ministry of Environment, Justice Ministry, Attorney General’s Department, as well as UN Office in Colombo and Asian Development Bank, European Union and several experts from the team established by MEPA to assess the ecological damage caused by the disaster.

The experts would be working closely with MEPA and other government agencies such as NARA, Ministry of Environment, CEA and the DWC in coming days.

Foreign Ministry


18 June, 2021




Foreign Minister Dinesh Gunawardena and the UK Minister for South Asia and the Commonwealth, Lord Tariq Ahmad have agreed to explore avenues to boost bilateral ties, during a video call yesterday, Thursday, 17 June 2021. They welcomed the multifaceted nature of the bilateral engagement between Sri Lanka and the United Kingdom in a wide range of areas of mutually beneficial cooperation.

Minister Gunawardena and Lord Ahmad discussed the existing cooperation between Sri Lanka and the U.K. in trade and investment, climate change and sustainable development, scientific and technical cooperation, and COVID-19 mitigation.

Sri Lanka’s progress in reconciliation and economic development, the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP 26), and cooperation in the Commonwealth, were among other issues taken up for discussion during the call.

Foreign Ministry


18 June 2021


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